* We Cannot Conform *

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Sliding For New Air



– I am of the opinion that the definitions of maturity that assail us in such profusion currently are uniformly founded on the tacit hypothesis that human development is linked to human passivity.

– All that I have encountered assume that adjustment and conformity are the desirable modes of life, and that the closer one comes to a condition of domestication, the more mature one is. None of them to my knowledge, takes account of man’s nature and spirit, of his innate rebelliousness, of his intrinsic values, or of his individuality. With monotonous regularity, these definitions predicate themselves upon, and defend, a society that is everyday and everywhere becoming more and more oppressive.

– Hence the standards for mature behavior they advise are those standards that may apply to mature cattle or mature puppies – but not to mature men.

– The simple truth, stark and severe in its simplicity is that

*we cannot conform*


for it seems that there is an ingredient in the composition of our cells, a chemistry in our blood, and a substance in our bones that will not suffer man to submit forever.

– Built into man, the foundation of his consciousness, the source of his humanity and the vehicle of his evolution up from the muck of a steaming primeval swamp, is an instinct. I have chosen to call it the ‘instinct of rebellion’, since it reveals itself as a drive or urge towards mastery over every obstacle, natural or man-made, that stands as a barrier between man and his distant, perhaps never-to-be-achieved, but always-striven-after goals. It is this instinct that underwrites his survival, this instinct from which he derives his nature: a great and powerful dynamic that makes him what he is – restless, seeking, curious, forever unsatisfied, eternally struggling and eventually victorious.

– Because of the instinct of rebellion man has never been content with the limits of his mind: it has led him to inquire its secrets of the universe, to gather and learn and manipulate the fabulous inventory of the cosmos, to seek the very mysteries of creation. Because of the instinct of rebellion, man has never been content, finally, with the limits of his life; it has caused him to deny death and to war with mortality.

Man is a rebel.

– He is committed by his biology not to conform, and herein lies the paramount reason for the awful tension he experiences today in relation to society.


//  Robert Lindner, psychoanalyst, 1955



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